Vito De Lucia
Ecosystem Approach, international environmental law, anthropocentrism, ecocentrism
The ecosystem approach, broadly understood as a legal and governance ‘strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources’ is being increasingly adopted within a wide variety of international environmental legal regimes. From freshwater to oceans, from biodiversity to fisheries, from Antarctica to climate adaptation, the approach provides a narrative, a policy approach and in some cases legally binding obligations for States to implement what has been called a ‘new paradigm’ of environmental management. Responding to hopes of arresting, and reversing, the increasingly negative trends of resource depletion and ecological degradation affecting most ecosystems in the world, the ecosystem approach promises to ‘protect the environment, maintain healthy ecosystems, preserve biological diversity, and achieve sustainable development’, all at once. This article problematises the ecosystem approach in order to highlight its complex genealogies, and its contested and slippery character, which makes it susceptible to discursive capture by competing narratives.
(2015) 27/1 Journal of of Environmental Law, 91-117